/Justice League (2017)
The rivalry between the two titans of comic books, DC and Marvel, has been on for some sixty years. All fans of comics, young and more seasoned, have been choosing sides throughout our lives. Never in all those years has the stakes for dominance been as intense as now. With revenue derived from sources beyond the printed page, such as film and television, the prize at stake is billions of dollars.as kids one of the most popular sub-genres was the superhero teams. It afforded us the opportunity to enjoy stories dependent on the interaction of several of our favorite superheroes as their joined forces to engage an otherwise undefeatable adversary. Understandably, both side has embraced this format for their respective film-based universes. Marvel took an early lead with ‘The Avengers,’ and after a delay of five years, DC has entered the fray with ‘Justice League.’ Loyal fans of DC waited a long time for this story, and many were understandably disappointed. Before Marvel studios released the first Avenger’s movie, they had four years in which to build their universe and establish their brand carefully. They also devised one of the most effective elements in the history of film, the end credit scene. These little teasers served several critical purposes from hints and Easter Eggs connecting the story and characters between films and the comic book source material. It also formed a sort of connective tissue for the entire MCU. Those years afforded sufficient opportunity to introduce the individual members of the team and important ancillary characters. DC had a lot of difficulty with the individual movies garnering uneven reviews and lackluster box office returns. By the time ‘Justice League’ was released even the most ardent fan was dubious of the potential for success. The most successful movies in the DC catalog, Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight Trilogy’ was retconned out of existence in the DC Extended Universe, the other aspect of DC characters that caught on with the audience, the ‘Arrows’ on television, was never incorporated into the cinematic side.
The story picks up some time after the conclusion of ‘Batman v Superman: The Dawn of Justice.’ A discarded newspaper, the Daily Planet’, displays the headline, "Superman Dead." Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), is patrolling the streets of Gotham City where he intercepts a criminal. While pursuing him over the rooftops, he encounters a strange insect-like creature rapidly flying attacking him. He captures it with one of his Bat-gadgets, but as soon as it is immobilized, it disintegrates. With the help of Alfred (Jeremy Irons), Wayne realizes that marking left by the creature bore a resemblance to those in research material found in Lex Luthor’s (Jesse Eisenberg) possession. In a flashback spanning millennia an entity of pure evil, Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciarán Hinds), has gathered thee cubes of extraordinary power, the Mother Boxes. When brought together they form ‘the Unity,’ granting the power to destroy and completely remake a planet. Steppenwolf intends to turn Earth into a replica of his destroyed, hellish homeworld, Apokolips. This would make possible the reign of his master, Darkseid. The creature Batman momentarily captured was one of Steppenwolf’s minion army, the Parademons. Together they were too powerful for any to defeat. It took the concerted efforts of the Amazons, Atlanteans, Olympian Gods, humanity and the intergalactic peacekeepers, Green Lantern Corps. Most fans were hopeful that this movie would introduce one of the founders of the Justice League in the comics, Green Lantern. To his credit, director, Zack Snyder, avoided the temptation which might have pleased the fans, but it would have inevitably overcrowded an already muddled screenplay. The grand battle scene highlighted the fighting styles of each participating faction, with an alien Green Lantern manifesting a hammer. When he is killed, his power ring was shown flying off his hand in search of the next bearer. It was brief, but effective way of paving the way for a future Green Lantern Corps film. After Steppenwolf was defeated and banished the Unity was dissembled with the individual Mother Boxes split up for safety and protection, one box was entrusted to the Amazons, one to the Atlanteans and one to men. After the death of Superman, the world fell into such deep despair that Steppenwolf could return, and resume is planned. This required he appropriate the Mother Boxes once again.
The first Mother Box targeted by Steppenwolf was the one guarded by the Amazons hidden deep in their tropical paradise. Led byQueen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), the warrior women fought valiantly, but unfortunately, the adversary was able to secure his prize. The special effects action sequence of the battle to defend the box was, admittedly, one of the most exciting and well-choreographed ever exhibited. The Amazon fight scene in ‘Wonder Woman’ featured them standing atop their horses charging into battle. It required considerable imagination and SFX skills to surpass that high bar, but they managed with style. Fundamentally the Amazons played a game of ‘keep away’ passing the Mother Box between their ranks ensuring it remained untouched by their foe. This was accomplished with incredible acrobatics and, when necessary, at the cost of their lives. Still, Steppenwolf gained his objective. After a similar engagement with the Atlanteans leaving only the box guarded by men remaining. While these action sequences were exceptional, they were insufficient to offset the lack of emotional depth necessary to completely bond with the audience.
Initially, Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), otherwise known by his nom de guerre, Aquaman, was reticent to join a team to protect humanity. A direct attack on his oceanic home of Atlantis and theft of the Mother Box made the urgency conferred by Wayne extremely personal. During the scene in Atlantis, there is a moment introducing Aquaman’s Queen, Mera. A well-known actress portrayed the role, Amber Heard, giving a strong indication that she will reprise the role in an upcoming Aquaman solo film. At the end of ‘Dawn of Justice,’ Bruce and Diana Prince, a.k.a. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), had agreed that something very bad was rapidly approaching and they need a lot of very special help. Lex Luthor had assembled a dossier on metahumans with extraordinary abilities. Diana was among them as well as Curry and two young men, Barry Allan (Ezra Miller) and Victor Stone (Ray Fisher). Bruce went to recruit Barry as the Flash but initially, Diana failed to convince Stone, but that would quickly change. After what should have been a fatal accident left Stone in pieces, barely alive, he was restored by his father, Silas ( Joe Morton), like Cyborg. To accomplish this miracle of extraterrestrial technology the scientist unwittingly used the third Mother Box. Cyborg could command and adapt to any technology required. They assemble in Gotham when Commissioner James Gordon (J.K. Simmons), informs them that the Parademons were assembled in an abandoned facility under Gotham Harbor. Finally, we get to see the Justice League being forged in the fires of combat.
Overall, the film suffers from a form of anti-synergism. The individual parts used to tell the story are fine, it is a case of failure of the assembly into a cohesive, entertaining narrative. As already cited, many of the action sequences were exciting, showcasing the modern level of CGI, but insufficient to carry the entire responsibility of engaging the audience. Perhaps if we didn’t have the achievements of the MCU as a standard, this movie might have seemed better. In a Marvel film, there seems to be a certain emotional gravitas in concert with a pervasive sense of humor and relatability resulting from over a decade of careful planning and stylistic execution. It is not a matter of casting, in most cases that were frequently on target. While Ben Affleck was not widely accepted as Batman, he did rise to the challenge of portraying the Dark Knight as weary, physically and psychologically drained by two decades as Batman. Henry Cavill’s ridiculously erased mustache could not detract the viewers from the uninspiring performance as Superman revived from the dead. At least the other superheroes had better representation. Gal Gadot was perfection as Wonder Woman infusing her performance with a nuanced look at the most iconic female superheroine. Many fans have felt that Aquaman was the lightweight of the team, but Jason Momoa changed this. He gave a fresh interpretation of the character that had incredible stage presence with a carefree attitude that redefines the character. As Barry Allen, Ezra Miller present the character as a fanboy, isolated due to his powers glad to be on the team yet frightened by inexperience. This was a weak introduction to the super team archetype that further damaged DC’s cinematic track record.